For Tyrone and Lloyal Harris, life is all about caring for others and giving people opportunities. Co-owners, along with Daniel Harris, of Harris Training Systems, Inc. in Tacoma, they bring this philosophy into every aspect of their lives. For the last eight years, they have been offering employment opportunities to people with disabilities and have never wavered from their commitment, even when times were tough.
It all began when a friend of theirs, Angie Miller, got a new job as an employment consultant.
“I’ve known Angie for a long time and when she started working at Vadis, she brought Lane (a Vadis client) here,” Tyrone said.
Lane enjoyed cleaning, so the Harrises offered him a cleaning position at their gym. Lane quickly became part of the family, and he was even offered a second job through one of Harris Training’s clients. When Lane unexpectedly passed away, they were devastated.
“We got along great and talked and joked with him, and it hurt when we lost him,” Tyrone said. “I learned a lot from Lane.”
Lane had made such a big impression on their hearts that they wanted to remain committed to inclusive employment and soon thereafter hired Jerry. It was Jerry’s first individual employment job. Prior to working at Harris Training, he only had experience working in Group Supported Employment at Vadis.
However, Angie thought that Jerry and Harris Training would be a great match, and she was right. Jerry loves his job! He comes into work with a big smile on his face and greets everyone he sees with a handshake.
“Having a business like Harris Training System welcome Jerry has been wonderful,” Angie said. “Jerry has grown so much as an individual and loves coming to work. Tyrone and Lloyal, the staff, and customers all have been a huge part of his success.”
Even when the Harrises experienced some difficult times, they never considered letting go of Jerry because they knew how important the job was to him.
“Many of us are so busy going about our lives and aren’t aware of the difficulties people with disabilities face until it’s brought to our attention,” Tyrone said. “Everyone deserves an opportunity and a chance – even a second and third chance.”
Both Tyrone and Lloyal said they hope more employers will consider hiring people with disabilities.
“Some people just don’t know this opportunity exists,” Lloyal said. “More people need to think out of the box. It’s not about just filling a position, it’s about creating one. Everyone wants to feel important, loved, and needed.”